Pure Storage Plugin for the vSphere Client 4.5.0 Release

Howdy doody folks. Lots of releases coming down the pipe in short order and the latest is well the latest release of the Pure Storage Plugin for the vSphere Client. This may be our last release of it in this architecture (though we may have one or so more depending on things) in favor of the new preferred client-side architecture that VMware released in 6.7. Details on that here if you are curious.

Anyways, what’s new in this plugin?

The release notes are here:

https://support.purestorage.com/Solutions/VMware_Platform_Guide/Release_Notes_for_VMware_Solutions/Release_Notes%3A_Pure_Storage_Plugin_for_the_vSphere_Client#4.5.0_Release_Notes

But in short, five things:

  1. Improved protection group import wizard. This feature pulls in FlashArray protection groups and converts them into vVol storage policies. This was, rudimentary at best previously, and is now a full-blown, much more flexible wizard.
  2. Native performance charts. Previously performance charts for datastores (where we showed FlashArray performance stats in the vSphere Client) was actually an iframe we pulled from our GUI. This was a poor decision. We have re-done this entirely from the ground up and now pull the stats from the REST API and draw them natively using the Clarity UI. Furthermore, there are now way more stats shown too.
  3. Datastore connectivity management. A few releases ago we added a feature to add an existing datastore to new compute, but it wasn’t particularly flexible and it wasn’t helpful if there were connectivity issues and didn’t provide good insight into what was already connected. We now have an entirely new page that focuses on this.
  4. Host management. This has been entirely revamped. Initially host management was laser focused on one use case: connecting a cluster to a new FlashArray. But no ability to add/remove a host or make adjustments. And like above, no good insight into current configuration. The host and cluster objects now have their own page with extensive controls.
  5. vVol Datastore Summary. This shows some basic information around the vVol datastore object

First off how do you install? The easiest method is PowerShell. See details (and other options) here:

https://support.purestorage.com/Solutions/VMware_Platform_Guide/User_Guides_for_VMware_Solutions/Using_the_Pure_Storage_Plugin_for_the_vSphere_Client/vSphere_Plugin_User_Guide%3A_Installing_the_vSphere_Plugin

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Pure Storage Plugin v4.4.0 for the vSphere Client

A lot going on in the Pure world right now, specifically:

And I have a lot to say on that (stay tuned!) but for now, let’s focus on some new releases.

We have released a few new plugins:

  • vSphere Plugin 4.4.0
  • Storage Replication Adapter 4.0
  • vROPs Management Pack 3.0.2
  • vRealize Orchestrator 3.5.0

Let’s walk through these one by one. In this post, I will go over the vSphere Plugin.

For release notes, installation instructions, etc:

https://support.purestorage.com/Solutions/VMware_Platform_Guide/Quick_Reference_by_VMware_Product_and_Integration/Pure_Storage_Plugin_for_the_vSphere_Client_Quick_Reference

Quite a few bug fixes in this release too.

vSphere Plugin 4.4.0

This release adds support for a few things:

ActiveDR

Datastores can now be provisioned to ActiveDR pods via the plugin:

There is a new tab “Continuous” which is where you will find ActiveDR-enabled pods. The fields show the source pod (where the volume would go), the target pod (where the volume will be replicated to), the source and target arrays (which currently own those pods), the replication direction, and the “lag”. The lag is how far behind the target pod is from the source pod.

When you click on a datastore, you will see a few more pieces of information in the FlashArray summary panel:

This will show the ActiveDR information if the volume of course is in an enabled ActiveDR pair. The plugin also supports all of the usual features with ActiveDR datastores: resize, rename, QoS, snapshot, refresh from snapshot, copy from snapshot.

Demo of provisioning and ActiveDR datastore:

vVol Snapshots

You can create a snapshot of a VM using the standard VMware snapshot tool, but that snapshots every single virtual disk–which you may not want/need. We used to have the ability in the plugin to create a one-off snapshot of a vVol, but removed it due to some early issues that have since been resolved. This feature has been reintroduced:

Now you can click on a vVol-type VM and navigate to the Configure tab and click on Pure Storage – > Virtual Volumes.

You can select a single vVol disk and click Create Snapshot.

This will create a new single snapshot of the volume that is that vVol. You can then restore from it, or copy from it with the other tools.

You can also do this with the home directory (config) vVol. Why would you want to snapshot this? Well because protects your virtual machine configuration. The pointer files, the VMX file, snapshot hierarchies, logs, etc. If you accidentally make a change to the VMX file that breaks your VM (or you made a lot and don’t know what you did) the restore can restore the config without having to restore the entire VM.

The other reason, is “undelete” protection. When you delete a VM, ESXi first deletes all of the files from the config vVol, then it tells the array to delete the volumes. When we delete volumes, we put the volumes in the destroyed volumes folder, then they get permanently deleted in 24 hours (by default) or manually by an admin (unless safemode is turned on and then manual eradication is not possible).

The problem here, is that if you delete a VM, we can restore the config volume itself, but VMware wiped the data from it. So it is blank. VMware does not wipe the data from the virtual disks, so those can be “undeleted” and the original data is still there. So to fully restore an undeleted VM, we need a snapshot of the config vVol. This will restore all of the files.

The ideal option here, is to assign a snapshot storage policy to the home vVol (or even more ideally all of the vVols) to have the array snapshot on a schedule:

So to do this, create a 1 hour snapshot protection group on the FlashArray:

Import the protection group into vSphere as an SPBM policy:

Select and import:

And it is now a policy:

Then assign the policy and the group to the VM (or just the VM home to protect the config).

If you don’t need frequent snapshots of the config vVol and just one will do (or whenever you want), this is what we added. You can select the VM home and click the Create Snapshot button:

Alternatively we have another place to do this. If you click on the VM summary tab and look at the FlashArray panel, there is an Undelete Protection box. If we do not see any snapshots for the config vVol, we will show a warning like below:

What this means, is that we cannot fully restore this VM if it is accidentally deleted. The data, yes. But the VM configuration, no. You can create a snapshot from here too, by clicking Snapshot now…

If it is protected, we will show the timestamp of the latest discovered snapshot:

So if you delete it:

You can restore via the plugin easily:

If the VM configuration is changing a lot–you probably want to protect via schedule. If the VM does not change a lot, then one off snapshots will work fine.

ESXi Host Personality

Also, we now set the ESXi host personality when creating new clusters:

This is important for some ActiveDR and ActiveCluster scenarios, so it is our best practice by default.

For more info on that:

https://support.purestorage.com/Solutions/VMware_Platform_Guide/User_Guides_for_VMware_Solutions/FlashArray_VMware_Best_Practices_User_Guide/bbbFlashArray_Configuration#Setting_the_FlashArray_.E2.80.9CESXi.E2.80.9D_Host_Personality

Pure Storage Plugin 4.2.0 for the HTML-5 vSphere Client

Another quarter, another vSphere Plugin release from Pure! This is the release I have been really looking forward to as it sets the stage for a lot of the future work I want to build into the plugin. To recap:

  • 4.0.0 was our initial release of our plugin that only had the basic configuration support and VMFS management.
  • 4.1.0 was the 2nd release that added vVol support back into the plugin.
  • 4.2.0 enhances the plugin to add more vVol stuff into it as well as Pure1 Integration! So we are finally to the point where we are adding features into it that were never in the previous flash plugin. Yay!

So what are the new features?

  • Pure1 authentication
  • FlashArray fleet registration
  • Load meter integration
  • Pure1 tag integration
  • Intelligent provisioning
  • Full VM-undelete
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Installing the Pure Storage vSphere Plugin with vRealize Orchestrator

A few months back I published a new PowerShell cmdlet for installing the Pure Storage vSphere Client Plugin. Get-PfavSpherePlugin and Install-PfavSpherePlugin. This works quite well and we’ve had a fair amount of use of it so far, but another place we are certainly investing in right now is vRealize Orchestrator and continuing to enhance our plugin. Filling in any gaps around workflows and actions, especially on initializing an environment is important.

One of those gaps was installing the vSphere Plugin. One common use case we have seen around vRO is day 0 config, but day 2 stuff is done in vCenter (deploying VMs, datastores, etc). So the vSphere Plugin comes in handy here. So how do I install it from vRO?

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FlashArray HTML-5 vSphere Client Plugin VVol Support

Not long ago I posted about our initial release of our vSphere Plugin that supports the HTML-5 UI–the main problem though is that it did not yet support the VVol stuff we put in the original flash/flex based plugin.

So accordingly, the most common question I received was “when are you adding VVol support to this one?”. And my response was “Soon! We are working on it”.

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